Sunday, March 12, 2006

Japan Day 2

(View pictures at

(Midnight at the hostel in Osaka) Getting through customs was a breeze. As soon as we got through, Angie was there to greet us. It was good to see her. We jumped on a train and got off just a block from the hostel we were staying. We checked in, got a snack at a convenient store, took a shower, visited for a short time, attempted to write an email (but failed to do because I made a key stroke that started a function I could not correct…the instruction screens where in Japanese.) Now it’s off to bed. It’s been a long day but it’s good to be here.

(6:57 a.m.) I didn’t get much sleep. Brock however slept better than I. It’s raining outside. I wish I would have brought my rain-fly for my pack.

(5:35 p.m.) We left Osaka with no problems. Before leaving we hung out in the hostel’s lobby and discussed our daily plans. A young Japanese man approached us and asked where we were from. I remembered him the night before when we passed in the stairwell. He was very friendly and eager to talk in English. He worked for Toyota and will likely end up in the States. He said he has been to many parts of the world including England. Angie asked if it was easier to learn England’s English or America’s. He said England (and I can understand why…we kill the language by the way we talk.) He said Americans say “crap” a lot but folks from England say, “F, Fu, Fuc, Fuc_” (you fill in the blank.) The way he said it in his Japanese accent made it extremely funny.

Brock and I turned in our vouchers for the high speed train passes. We made our way to Kyoto and found ourselves in an amazing train station. The size was huge. The structure looked like something out of the movie Star Wars. Attached to the station was a giant 13 story mall called “The Cube.” I was surprised by the similar line of fashion that the people wore. The only major exception was that a good number of the women wore high heal shoes. The first place we ate was nothing other than a sub-sandwich at Subway. We traveled nearly 7,000 miles and the first restaurant we went to was a place I could have eaten at just 10 miles from where I live in Francesville.

From the station we ventured south to a shrine. We had no idea what to expect. We found thousands upon of orange (they would call red) wooden gates that varied in size. This had to have been the place where the artist grew his inspiration for the “art work” in New York City’s Central Park. The artist had hundreds of orange gates through the park. Most American’s saw the art work as a joke. I remember David Letterman giving it a hard time. The temple had many paved walkways, so many in fact, we found ourselves unsure where we were. We eventually found ourselves in a residential neighborhood. It was interesting to see Japanese homes up close. We eventually found a main road then a train station to take us back. The hostel was a ten minute walk from the station.

The hostel we are staying is very nice and very new. The most impressive feature was the toilet by far. It had a heated seat with a spray that washes your back side. I had to use it. Emily and I saw a toilet like this at Lowes. It was priced at $750 but a freshly washed rear end…priceless. (There’s a Master Card commercial for you.)

We rested for a short time at the hostel then it was back into the city. Angie had something she wanted to see. It was about dinner time but we chose to go to our destination first. We walked for a very long time until we found ourselves at the bottom of a hill at the edge of a village very similar to Gatlinburg, TN. It had many shops geared toward tourism. The main attractions were the huge temples. None of us new the history behind these buildings therefore it was difficult to appreciate them beyond their appearance. The walking continued stopping very little. I think Angie was looking for something. I’m not sure if she found it. I was dragging behind. Angie is a fast walker.

I found all this walking very similar the end of a day of backpacking: unsure where you were, wishing the walk would be over soon, questioning why you were there, hungry, wanting to stop but knowing you had to push on. We were looking for a McDonald’s so every street block was like the top of hill in the backcountry; hoping this was the last one until you arrive. My hopes grew at the sight of every red and yellow sign only to be disappointed that it was not it. We finally arrived to the golden arches and enjoyed a double cheese burger (they didn’t have quarter ponders.) Angie apologized for under estimating the walking distance to the temple. When I asked Angie for the plans of the next day she said, “Learn how to use the public bus.” We laughed.

After dinner we made it back to the hostel and went straight for bed.

No comments: